Avoiding a repeat of the last two games will be the No. 1 priority for Miami tonight when the Lady Wardogs host Pryor in a Verdigris Valley Conference game at the Dogdome.
The Lady Wardogs were outscored 45-5 in the first quarter of weekend games with Webb City and Joplin, Mo., in the Freeman Classic.
The rest of the way, they’ve held a 97-87 advantage —but only have a pair of losses to show for it.
“That is my fault — we thought we were to the point where they could motivate themselves (at the start of a game),” Miami coach JohnCarl Morgan. “They didn’t. I was late to the game (Saturday at Joplin) because I had to go pick up a player. That may have had a little to do with it, but it shouldn’t have. We will step in as a staff to avoid that again. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”
While they never really threatened in the second half against Webb City, the Lady Wardogs made things interesting in Saturday’s clash with Joplin.
Scoring the last seven points of the first half, Miami came back with the first three field goals of the third quarter to slash its deficit back to 12 points, 34-22.
Joplin then outscored the Lady Wardogs 15-7 over the next 6:06 to regain control and glide to a 58-42 win.
Pryor improved to 6-2 with a 62-50 win over Jay on Friday. Kassie Kerns had 22 points for the Tigerettes, with 10 of that coming in the first quarter when Pryor broke out to an 18-12 lead.
Ashley Cox joined Kerns in double figures with 11 points.
“They are just trying to figure out who they are,” said Morgan, who spent three seasons as an assistant at Pryor before being hired at MHS. “They graduated Katie Wright, and she’s doing an awesome at Rogers State right now. Now they are trying to figure out who their scorers are going to be and what role they are playing. They are kinda struggling with that.”
The Lady Tigers returned three starters from a team that went 13-11 and reached the Class 5A area tournament.
Ashley Cox, a 5-6 senior, averaged 12.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals a year ago.
“They’ve got three who can score any night,” Morgan said. “Their inside game is a little shaky because they didn’t have to score much the last couple of years. They (the posts) are the ones whose roles are really changing. The guards are having to score more, too. But they are still awfully tough. Their seniors, when we had them as eighth graders, freshman and sophomores, lost only three games. The know how to win.”
Miami’s boys also were swept by Webb City and Joplin, falling by 64-55 and 57-50 scores, respectively.
“This will be a tough conference game at home,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “We’re hurting now. We’ve got to get our heads on straight. We always say that last game before Christmas dictates a lot. You have two weeks to sit around and think about your last game.
“It’s an important game for a lot of reasons, namely the fact we’ve lost two in a row and have got to get on the other side of the ledger. Pryor is very good.”
The Tigers went 17-5 a year ago but exited the playoffs in the first round. They return two starters in 6-4 senior Keith Mibb and 5-11 junior Brook Hall.
Hall averaged 10.2 points and 5.2 assists as a sophomore while Mibb chipped in 9.6 ppg.
After tonight, Miami will be idle until Jan. 8, when it entertains Grove.